Orquesta Nova was a dream in the eyes of Juliet Haffner and Carlos Franzetti three years ago when they first worked together and recorded a tape for string quartet of one of Carlos' pieces, "Serenata." David Chesky of Chesky Records was having the same dream, which was to record the music of Latin America with a classical chamber ensemble. It all came together last year with the release of their first CD, which has met with great critical acclaim. Says Carlos Franzetti, "We have chosen to present urban styles like Argentina's tango and milonga, the choro from Brazil and the Cuban danzon. This was the music of the dance hall brothels and silent-movie houses. All these styles are basically European in their form and harmony but use syncopated rhythms from African music."
Carlos Franzetti, born in Argentina, is a well known composer who has written everything from concert pieces to film scores. He has had works played by such groups as the New American Orchestra in Los Angeles, the Buffalo Philharmonic and Musical Elements. He recently completed the music for the movie The Mambo Kings. Besides his considerable skills as a composer and arranger, his career as a pianist has brought him together with Paquito D'Rivera and as the soloist on his own album, Galaxy Dust, accompanied by a large orchestra. He enjoys both playing and composing and as co-leader of Orquesta Nova, he participates on both ends of the spectrum.
Juliet Haffner, co-leader of Orquesta Nova, was serenaded as a child with both Latin American and Rumanian Gypsy music, courtesy of her musical parents. As a duo, Haffner heard her mother sing beautiful Latin American melodies while playing guitar, while her father performed them on the violin. Juliet, following in her mother's footsteps, began playing the guitar at an early age, followed soon by the violin, but she majored in viola at Juilliard. Amidst all of the competition she experienced at Juilliard, Juliet always carried her love for this beautiful music, which has never left her. When David Chesky asked her and Carlos to do this project, Juliet contacted musicians that she knew from her school days as well as some that she met afterwards, but everyone involved shared that love for this music. The artists who make up Orquestra Nova are an extraordinary group of versatile musicians, including: violinist Guillermo Figueroa, born in Puerto Rico, and a founder of the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble; violinist Robert Chausow, a member of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra and the New York City Ballet Orchestra; cellist Erik Friedlander, a member of the group "Framework" and performer with the Orchestra of St. Luke's; bassist David Finck, who has performed on Chesky releases of Ana Caram, Paquito D'Rivera and David Chesky; flutist Gary Schocker, a well-known soloist who has recorded his own CD for Chesky Records; and saxophone/ clarinet player Lawrence Feldman, a busy New York studio player who has performed with the St. Luke's Orchestra.
"an utterly natural recording that gets heart and toes a-tapping. It has everything, saxophone, clarinet, piano, percussion..." - Sean McCaughan, Audio Adventure, August 1996